My first full day in Kona. I was awake at 2am. Watched a little of the Ryder Cup and left at 6 for the PATH 5k down on Ali'i drive. I had a positive race. I went out pretty easy and hit the turn at 11:20 and decided I felt pretty good so I picked it up a bit and did the return portion of the out-and-back in 10:55 for a 22:15 (7:11/mile). I'm quite pleased with that--it was very warm, even at 7:30 am--much warmer than yesterday. The course has a few rolling hills in it--nothing major, but definitely much tougher than the Delaware 5k I did in 22:32 last weekend. I'm getting faster by the week and beginning to recover some of my lost form from the injury.
Surprisingly, I finished 2nd in my AG--so I at least will go home with one Kona podium! I won a nice little carved wooden bowl for my efforts. The award ceremony was picture perfect (you can click on the pics to blow them up!):
There were a few pros in the race--Chris Leigh and Heather Fuhr won:
I then walked over to the pier and did an easy 30 minute swim. The water is quite pleasant--about 78 degrees and noticeably buoyant (yes!). There seemed to be a pretty significant swell and a noticeable current. I found this to be a bit challenging to swim in. There were several times when I took 2-3 strokes and kept looking at the same spot on the bottom. The water is clear by my standards but it was a bit stirred up from the swell--not is crystal clear as i imagine it gets. Lots of brighly colored fish. I felt pretty good and will breakout my swimskin and swim a bit longer tomorrow--and try to push a little bit harder.
After all of these activities I hit Lava Java for a Joe and a bran muffin--did a little gawking as well....
I did a quick return to the hotel and then did the 110 mile drive out to Volcanoes National Park. I went through about 50 weather zone changes (I'm not exaggerating here). It was 86 when I left Kailua and I found myself at times in driving rain and 62 degrees as I climbed around the southern end of the Island and up the flanks of Mauna Koa. As I emerged from the wind shadow of Mauna Koa i was blasted by 30-40 mph winds. The waves were huge on the southern side of the Island.
The weather was not great when i got to the Park and the Volcano was spewing deadly (literally) gas so a fair amount of the Park was off-limits for safety reasons. I did enjoy what turned out to be a 7 hour trip. The views of the active caldera and a walk through a lava tube were highlights:
On the way back I hit the Black Sand Beach turnoff--yes it truly is black sand. Saw a big Honu turtle taking a nap on the beach. They are supposed to be good luck--I hope so!
On the way back home the clouds parted over Mauna Lea and I could clearly see the observatories perched up at 13.7K feet. I plan to head up there tomorrow afternoon to catch the sunset and then do some star-gazing in what is considered the best place on Earth to do so.
My bike (hopefully) arrives tomorrow and I hope to pick it up and take it out for at least an hour or two to make sure all is well on the bike front.
Don't worry about all the activities--I feel like my taper is working well.
I'll update you with more tomorrow!